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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Summer 2018 issue

The Wylie Memorial, Portsmouth Cathedral

William Thomas Wyllie was the second son of the renowned marine artist William Lionel Wyllie. Born in London in 1882, he was educated at Eastbourne and Clifton. On leaving school in 1900 he went to Elswick Shipyard on the Tyne to train as a naval architect. A year later, the Boar War had already broken out so he volunteered for the Territorial Army joining the newly formed Elswick Battery as a bombardier. The battery sailed to South Africa in 1901 and fought in the final stages of the war.

When the war ended in 1902 the unit returned to England and William Wyllie decided to join the Regular Army and gained a commission in the Durham Light Infantry. After home service from 1910-1914 he served on attachment to the West African Frontier Force based at Forcados in Nigeria. Whilst on leave in England in 1912 he married Mary Rickards of Cricklade Wiltshire.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, he returned home. Promoted to Captain he became adjutant to Colonel Morant in 1915 in France. Wounded in October 1915 he recovered, and was sent back to join the regiment in time for the Battle of the Somme offensive in July 1916. Whilst visiting the trenches near Montauban on the 19 July he was shot in the head by a German sniper and killed. He lies buried today in Danzig Alley Cemetery, Mametz.

After the war his father commissioned the sculptor Robert Colton to make a life size memorial to be placed in Portsmouth Cathedral. It was an impressive life size bronze on marble depicting William Wyllie lying like a Crusader Knight in full uniform. It can be seen today near the East Wall of the Quire.

The inscription reads “In loving memory of the second son of William Lionel and Marion Amy Wyllie, 2nd Durham Light Infantry, killed in action at Montauban on the 19th July 1916 whilst acting as Brigade Major and buried in Mametz Cemetery. He leaves a widow and three children.”

In fact his youngest child Marion was born 2 months after his death. His wife never remarried dying in Lymington in 1984 aged 97.

John Symonds